Winslow Homer Civil War Art:
Songs of War
The illustration at right is a fascinating Winslow Homer
illustration of the Songs of War. It is from the November 23, 1861
edition of Harper's Weekly. The illustration is captioned, "The Songs
of War." The illustration represents one of the earliest examples in
Harper's Weekly of Homer being featured as an artist. Earlier Homer work in
Harper's would primarily be considered simple lithography, or the work of a
November 23, 1861 - The Songs of War
This piece would have to be considered "art" in that
it is not a lithograph of a photograph, nor is it an illustration of a
specific event. It is an early example of the use of Winslow Homer
as a creator of artwork.
The leaf features 7 inset illustrations, all by
Homer, each featuring a different Civil War Song. Featured in the upper
left inset is an image of a young drummer boy, marching alongside well
armed union soldiers. This image is meant to illustrate the
popular Civil war song "The Bold Soldier Boy". To the right is an
image of General George McClellan on horseback, tipping his hat to
soldiers who stand at attention. The song being illustrated here
is "Hail to the Chief". One would assume from this image, that at this
time, the song was not reserved for the President as it is today. The
next image to the right shows revelry in a Union camp, with soldiers
fighting and drinking. The song being portrayed here is "We'll be
Free and Easy Still". On the far right, at the top, is a picture
of soldiers and drummers marching, with the song being, "Kogues March".
The lower left illustration is the most dramatic, and
presents a stunning image of soldiers marching and singing. This
inset illustrates the song "Glory Halleluiah". In the center is an
image of a young lady, holding a white hanky, and standing beside a
flag. The image is illustrating the song, "The Girl I Left
Behind". Finally, in the lower right, a slave is pictured sitting
on a barrel labeled "Contraband". In the background, a man is seen
hauling a heavy load. The image is illustrating the song "Dixie".
The contraband almost appears to be sitting and whistling Dixie.
This is a dramatic illustration and represents a step
forward in the career of Winslow Homer.
A Note to our Readers
We acquired the images above for the
purpose of digitally persevering them on this site for all to enjoy.
With the digital archive complete, we are making the original, 140 year
old illustrations available for purchase. By selling these
original illustrations, we are able to acquire more material to archive
on this site. If you are interested in purchasing one of the
original Harper's Weekly leafs on this page, contact
leafs are available for a price of $250 a piece, and the proceeds will go to continue to expand the
resources on this site.